Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Energy-Saving Tips

As the temperatures continue to rise in Memphis, air conditioners become just about every homeowner’s favorite appliance. Misusing these appliances can result in increased utility costs, many of which can easily be avoided.

When the weather is warm, you work hard to keep your home cool. Below are a few tips to ensure maximum savings while doing so:
  • Using a ceiling fan allows you to raise your thermostat by 4°F without a noticeable change. Using fans will give the sensation it is 5 degrees cooler than it is.
  • A ceiling fan creates a wind chill effect for people, not the room itself. So remember to turn off the fan when no one is there.
  • After showers and baths, turn on your bathroom fan to remove excess heat and humidity. 
  • Do not place lamps or televisions near the thermostat. The heat given off causes the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • To block heat, keep blinds shut or curtains and drapes pulled closed on the side of the house that receives the most sun.
  • Clean or replace air filters once a month. This is important to ensure there is no dust build-up. This restricts airflow and places stress on the system, which leads to unit deterioration and increased operation costs.
  • Try to keep your average thermostat temperature set at 78°F. Each degree below that adds 6% to your cooling costs. Keep in mind that the slighter the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature, the less energy your system has to expend.
  • Setting the thermostat lower than normal when turning on the air conditioner will not cool your home faster than normal, but it will result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
  • Using a microwave or stove as opposed to an oven can help keep your house cooler.
  • Try not to turn the AC down so low at night. Instead, sleep with light bedding and a fan or two, if needed.
  • Keep the outside portion of your air conditioner clear of mud, grass and debris, as that blocks the air. It’s imperative that the condensing unit is allowed to breathe.
  • Place shrubs or bushes around your air conditioning unit to provide shade and reduce your electricity usage by 10%. Just make sure the shrub or bush does not block airflow.
  • Seal cracks and openings to reduce warm air entry into your home. For other ways to improve the efficiency of your windows, visit energy.gov.

Looking for an energy-efficient, cost saving home in Memphis? Check out our Wolf River Bluffs Development: http://www.uhinc.org/14-featured-articles/47-a-testimony-to-homeownership.

Monday, July 14, 2014

United Housing Partners With Grace-St. Luke’s Church To Develop First GraceBuilders House

United Housing, Inc. has partnered with Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to create the first Grace-St. Luke’s GraceBuilders House. The church’s GraceBuilders volunteers will work with United Housing Construction Manager Mike Brunk to completely rehab a foreclosed house in Northwood Hills for a family in United Housing’s Homebuyer Education program. 

Grace-St. Luke’s Church donated $25,000 to the home renovation project, which United Housing matched with Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) funds obtained through the Federal HOME funds granted to Shelby County.

“We are honored to partner with Grace-St. Luke’s and CHDO, who have generously embraced this great project,” said Tim Bolding, Executive Director of United Housing. “We look forward to working with the GraceBuilders and other community partners to increase homeownership across West Tennessee.”

Over the course of five weekends beginning July 11, volunteers will perform tasks related to demolition, painting, blind installation, deck and fence construction and home landscaping. Volunteer sessions will take place on Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as noted below. Anyone can sign up to volunteer for one or more days of work by emailing gracebuilders@gracestlukes.org.

·                July 11 and 12: Demolition
·                July 25 and 26: Landscaping
·                August 8 and 9: Construction
·                August 22 and 23: Painting
·                September 12 and 13: Clean-up

Following the renovation, United Housing will sell the house to one of its clients who have completed the organization’s Homebuyer Education program and are in need of assistance. Furthermore, Grace-St. Luke’s Church will purchase and donate appliances to the new homeowner during a special ceremony.

United Housing’s Homebuyer Education program encourages self-empowerment and self-sufficiency, as well as provides the tools for families to become financially stable. Clients who take part in the program must complete the course and one-on-one counseling before earning their Homeownership Diploma. This designation provides participants access to lower mortgage interest rates and down-payment assistance. 

For more on this project, read this feature article in The Commercial Appeal: http://bit.ly/1rbetbY

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Client Success Story: Lamar Perry

When Mid-South Food Bank Receiving Warehouse Manager Lamar Perry and his wife, Lakeva, purchased a home through United Housing, Inc., the transaction was an example of how members of Memphis nonprofits serve each other. The Mid-South Food Bank aids Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, with a network that reaches 4,200 people through churches, shelters and food pantries.

Last winter, the Perrys enrolled in the HUD-certified Homebuyer Education class, in order to satisfy the requirements for their FHA home loan, which they received through Evolve Bank and Trust. There, they learned about United Housing’s program, the Memphis Shelby County Helping Homebuyers Program (MSCHHP), which the couple could use to add a down payment assistance loan to their FHA mortgage. The loan, in the amount of $14,700, would be forgiven after five years of residence in the home.  Studies have shown that down payment assistance loans are one of the most effective loans in helping homebuyers bridge the cusp between renting and homeownership. Borrowing these funds ensured the Perrys could concentrate all of their purchasing power into the home price of their house of choice.

Becoming homeowners has created opportunities for the Perrys to improve their children’s lives, such as choosing their neighborhood based on the quality of education provided by area schools and its safety status. The Perrys did plenty of research before choosing their home, utilizing internet queries on the best Memphis-area schools, and finally decided on Bartlett, Tenn. Not only schools, but neighborhood safety, was an important factor for the Perrys, as the family’s three children are between the ages of 2 and 8. “We did it for our kids, because we want them to grow up in a safe neighborhood and environment,” Lamar says.

The family is also happy to be in a neighborhood that values neighbors so highly. During the purchasing process, the sellers had mentioned there were two retired neighbors on their street. After their neighbors welcomed them to the neighborhood, the Perry's continue to receive friendly offers from their neighbors to borrow their tools and to keep an eye on their house.

By using MSCHHP, the couple was able to choose a house in a safe neighborhood with good neighbors and excellent schools. This little bit of extra purchasing power went a long way in serving a homebuyer who is already giving back to the community through his work with Mid-South Food Bank. “I recommend everybody who’s going to get a house to use United Housing,” said Perry.